IRENE: 6 local Red Cross volunteers en route to Boston for relief
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The Chattanooga Red Cross is stepping up to help hurricane victims. Six more volunteers caught flights to Boston Saturday. Irene is expected to hit southern New England Sunday.
"Big gusts of wind all afternoon," says Chattanooga Red Cross volunteer, Dick Blazak. "You have to brace yourself then it's gone."
Category one Hurricane, Irene, moved through Virginia Saturday night. Volunteers with the Greater Chattanooga Area Red Cross positioned in Richmond are taking shelter for the night.
"As soon as the weather passes somebody will set up a kitchen, and then we'll be able to feed people in shelters," Blazak says over the phone Saturday. "Then we'll probably go out in neighborhoods."
Blazak and his wife were the first volunteers from Chattanooga sent into path of the storm earlier this week. They took an emergency response vehicle with them. The vehicle will serve meals to hundreds, even thousands, of hurricane victims over the next two weeks.
"Right now the vehicle is loaded with water and snacks," Blazak says.
Blazak's colleague, David Hartsoe, left for the Chattanooga airport early Saturday. Once there, Hartsoe will meet up with three other volunteers. It's their last chance to make it to Boston before the storm hits Sunday. Saturday night people in Massachusetts are stocking up on necessities.
"We've got teams that'll be working in disaster assessment," Hartsoe says. "Some of us will be working in sheltering and feeding."
This will be Hartsoe's first assignment since the April tornadoes. It wasn't that long ago that he was managing shelters across the Tennessee Valley.
"It usually takes a bigger response to cover a hurricanes than tornadoes," Hartsoe says.
Hartsoe looks at every assignment as a learning experience. He says he's happy to pay it forward after watching hundreds of others travel to the Tennessee Valley in our time of need.
"You have to understand that people have lost everything they have," he says. "You have to be compassionate."